Tar Heel Fan

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ignorance in Buffalo

The NHL Eastern Conference Finals have produced a fairly high level of animosity between Carolina Hurricanes fans and loyal followers of the Buffalo Sabres. The 850/620 Blog has hosted some heated discussions and the News and Observer's Ned Barnett jumped into the fray when he received responses from Buffalo fans who say his columns re-printed in the Buffalo area papers. This article in particular, a response to Buffalo fans, drew the ire of Buffalo columunist Jerry Sullivan who proceeded to write a column lambasting North Carolinians as being ignorant of hockey and implying we are essnetially all tobacco peddling, NASCAR rednecks of low IQ. Now, I know very little about hockey so I steer clear of discussing too much since I would undoubtedly sound like an idiot. Sullivan also has little problem with that. Here is my email in response to his journalistic regurgitation:

Mr Sullivan, First of all I would like to think you for demostrating what "pronouncing your ignoranc" look like in written form. Since I am fair guy I would like to correct your ignorance as displayed by your article on 5/26. "Keep in mind, this is the perspective from North Carolina, where the burning intellectual question is how swiftly a bunch of guys in overalls can change four tires and fill up the gas tank without getting run over by a stock car." Congratulations for latching right on to the oldest stereotype of the South and particularly North Carolina. I would have been more impressed with some sort of original thought on your part but you probably thought we would be too dumb to understand it. "Really, how can Buffalo fans ever comprehend what's involved in watching a NASCAR event? I'm sure that while watching the cars go endlessly around in a circle - pardon me, oval - the typical race fan is quietly debating Sartre and the latest developments in the "Research Triangle" I am not sure what factor intelligence has on watching NASCAR? In fact if NASCAR is such a dumb sport why are they in process of abandoning the smaller rural tracks for ones in metro areas? And the last I checked Watkins Glen, NY was 2 1/2 hours from Buffalo so I have a sneaking suspiscion NASCAR is bigger in upstate NY than you are willing to admit. In fact how many NASCAR races have you actually watched? Can you tell me why a team would opt to only take two tires at the end of the race? Do you know what it means if a car is "loose" or "tight?" Could you be so kind as to explain to me what a "wedge" is or what purpose the "roof flaps" serve? My point is different sports have their own nuances and terminology. Some are easier than others, but denigrating any of them is outright stupid. "I've always thought their state motto should be, "Hey, at least we're not West Virginia." Sure, a lot of our finest minds have left town to get jobs there, but I'd rather export young people than cigarettes, which kill people. Tobacco should be their state flower." I have no idea what that motto part means but I will say that tobacco was entrenched in NC fields well before anyone thought it was dangerous and I am not how well you understand economics but a state is usually incapable of switching its economy overnight. I would also like to point out that smoking is a choice people make now with full knowledge of the dangers and addictive quality. So spare me the self righeous garbage about exporting something that kills people. In fact speaking of killers... "Some of Carolina's deep thinkers would have us believe that the Duke men's lacrosse players are really just a bunch of misunderstood good guys." Nice. Especially coming from the city where O.J. Simpson spent his professional career. Of course O.J. got off with far more evidence against him than Durham DA Mike Nifong has on the three indicted Duke players. I guess you cannot be bothered with silly things like "innocent until proven guilty" or a simple perusal of the facts surrounding the case. And not that I am taking either side in the case just pointing out what kind of classless individual it takes to use a rape scandal as cheap shot against someone. "Maybe we spend too much time dissecting hockey's little nuances. But you should hear Carolina people talk about basketball. When the sanctimonious Dean Smith began using the four corners offense, you would have thought he'd invented the light bulb." Listening to Peter Laviolette complain about the officiating, you'd swear he once served as an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski, the whiny Duke hoop coach. If Laviolette is so smart, how come he couldn't figure out that Ryan Miller was one of the three best goaltenders from the United States?" Ah, the basketball cracks. Yes we tend to hold Dean Smith in high regard because he is the all time winningest coach in NCAA history and he did it the right way. His strategies, four corners included, changed the face of basketball. Was it inventing the light bulb? No, the next time you watch a college game ask yourself why the shot clock is part of the game. As for Mike Krzyzewski, you will get little argument from me on him except I think you do Pete Laviolette a disservice by comparing him to Coach K. "Having seen his Hurricanes get dominated for stretches of Game Three, Laviolette was no doubt reminded of how important it is to have the last change at home. Of course, when you talk about the last change in Carolina, they assume you're talking about the oil in the Dodge." You are so witty! There is nothing funnier than dropping some kind of line implying that people in the South are so entrenched in NASCAR and car repair that we assume any reference to the word "change" must be about changing the oil. In fact I have never changed my own oil and neither do most of the people I know. And I am not sure why you stopped short on the stereotype and did not use Ford or Chevy instead of Dodge there. "But I don't mean to belittle the good people of Carolina" Are you insane? You just spent the better part of this article implying that North Carolinians were a group of dumb NASCAR watching rednecks who engage in the murder of people through tobacco sales and use a recent rape scandal as fodder to denigrate our intellegience. Now you come down here and say you do not mean to "belittle" us? It's a little late for that. And besides, if you are going to write an article full of cheap shots at North Carolina and its citizens please have the courage of your convictions to stand by it without giving some pseudo apology at the end to make it look like this was just a good natured ribbing. As for your salient points about hockey culture you may be right or you may be wrong. Since I have little working knowledge of hockey I will refrain from speaking about it any detail lest I "pronounce my ignorance" I would expect the same from you except had you done that your article would have been about two paragraphs in length. Hockey is a niche sport much the same way NASCAR appears to be. I am not sure why people, even in Raleigh, think hockey is supposed to rocket to the top of the popularity chart when sports like basketball, NASCAR, and to some extent college football have been here for over 50 years. As for Ned Barnett and the N&O, Canes fans are not even happy with anything they have say about hockey so I can only imagine what kind of ire they would raise from more knowledgeable fans of the sport. Barnett's response to the inbox flurry was ill advised. You response to Barnett went well beyond reason given that your article is nothing more than a series of overused attacks based on worn out generalizations. There is nothing you said that we have not heard before only it was funnier and more cleverly presented. The sad truth about your aritcle is that you had an opportunity to engage the issue and Barnett with an honest evaluation of hockey and the place it represents in the culture. You were afforded a chance to be respectful and educate people by correcting the misconceptions Barnett and others have offered. Instead you chose to answer their misconceptions with some of your own and when you were finished you came off as the pompous, self righteous, Northerner which did nothing more but fulfill the view many Southerners already hold of our northern neighbors. In short the article was petty and incendiary in nature, but then again I am sure you already knew that and are most likely quite please to see your inbox fill up with half cocked responses.

The long and short of it is that Jerry Sullivan is a troll of the Gregg Doyel variety. He wrote a article which was fully intended to anger Canes fans and North Carolinians in general. Perhaps I fell into the trap by responding but I have little patience for people who opt for personal insults and cheap attacks instead of actually making a valid point. Canes and Sabres tied 2-2. Go Canes!!!


  • Well said my friend. I read the Buzz blog daily and admittedly I know little about hockey. That doesn't make me any less happy with the Cane's success in the post season. Since when did enjoying a home town team's deep run into the playoffs require an ability to knowledgeably dissect each play, each call or no call, or even know when it's a check and when it's interference?

    I read the article you replied to and I think I felt the same as you did when you read it. I even started to reply to his drivel but held off because I doubt that I could have been as generous and easy going as you were. The crap he was spewing was almost funny if it hadn't been so sad. Just goes to show that stereotypes die hard and for some people that's the only argument they are able to make.

    Again, well said.


    By Blogger Ron, at 5/28/2006 12:13:00 AM  

  • As someone that is in the Buffalo area, Sully is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Keep in mind that this is the same journalist that virtually called the owner of the Buffalo Bills a liar publicly on several occasions.

    He is smug and VERY ego-centric. However, the person that should be held responisible is the Sports editor of the Buffalo News as they should be more responisible then to let that type of article be published.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/28/2006 02:31:00 AM  

  • Good point anonymous. And has been pointed out about some of our (read NC's) less than informed journalists; ignorance isn't just a geographical thing.

    By Blogger Ron, at 5/28/2006 12:43:00 PM  

  • You're response was on point. Too bad it was wasted on an idiot hack who wants web hits and who's editor thinks this makes him a great journalist. Of course, I've done the same so I understand completely.

    I enjoy your blog and think you make cogent arguments and discuss interesting topics. Keep up the good work.

    By Blogger Spiro, at 5/29/2006 01:30:00 AM  

  • You're response was on point. Too bad it was wasted on an idiot hack who wants web hits and who's editor thinks this makes him a great journalist. Of course, I've done the same so I understand completely.

    I enjoy your blog and think you make cogent arguments and discuss interesting topics. Keep up the good work.

    By Blogger Spiro, at 5/29/2006 01:31:00 AM  

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